BC Building Trades “disappointed” by Premier’s Decision to Abandon WAC Bennett Dam Building Model

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tom Sigurdson, Executive Director of the BC Building Trades (BCBT), today issued this statement regarding a letter from Premier Clark in response to BCBT concerns about BC Hydro’s proposed plan for construction of Site C:

“British Columbia has led the world in dam construction because it has developed the world’s best dam builders here at home. This was the model that Premier WAC Bennett created and that has been used to build every single dam since then.

Until now.

We are disappointed that Premier Christy Clark is choosing to abandon this proven model — and is now moving to an unproven one that BC Hydro has taken from the Alberta oil sands and will not guarantee that British Columbians are hired first in this $9-billion taxpayer project.

Moreover, the new model the Premier prefers offers no guarantee that some of those BC jobs will not be given to offshore workers, who lack the needed experience and skills and who will likely endure sub-standard wages and working conditions.

This decision by the Premier is risky for taxpayers, goes against the construction model that WAC Bennett pioneered and will not ensure that there is a BC-sourced labour supply for this mega-project.

Only the BC Building Trades has the ability to bring forward the thousands of talented men and women for a project this large, and unify them around its completion on time and on budget for all British Columbians.

We also guarantee maximum participation by First Nations, women and apprentices who will be the next generation’s construction workers.

We realize that construction models evolve. British Columbia must bring all our people together to build the LNG plants, hydro dams, highways and ports that our future demands. But this is not the time to put union against non-union, as BC Hydro’s proposed construction model will surely do.

That is why we have offered the Premier and BC Hydro a new Construction Partnership Model, which will build Site C with both union and non-union labour, providing that industry-standard conditions are met.

This is not the time to reinvent how we build a $9 billion mega-project, or go back to the old politics that often divide this province.

This is the time to bring British Columbians — union and non-union — together and maximize the talent we have at home to build Site C. And we need to do it the BC way — with industry-standard wages, quality, safety conditions and a commitment to hire offshore workers only when Canadians are not available and to pay them the same rate as that earned by Canadians.

I still hope to meet with the Premier to discuss this important idea. And we will continue to inform BC Hydro why it is injecting unacceptable risk for taxpayers and workers in its current plan to build Site C.”

For More Information: 

Contact the BC Building Trades office
(778) 397-2220

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